SHIFT's eLearning Blog
Our blog provides the latest best practices, tips, insights and thought leadership on modern corporate training, eLearning and mLearning.
Are workers dropping out your eLearning courses like the proverbial ‘hot potato?’ Are they finding them hard to finish? Giving them bad reviews? Telling everyone they know a crazed monkey designed them? If so, it’s likely your courses have one or more of the following issues that have driven your learners away:
“Are you feeling me?” Well, are you? Or, more importantly, is your audience feeling you? Understanding you? Connecting to what you’re putting out there? To get a resounding “yes!” to these questions you need to concern yourself with resonance which is, among other things, “a quality that makes something personally meaningful or important to someone.” Or in the words of Tony Schwartz in his book The Responsive Chord "Resonance takes place when the stimuli put into our communication evoke meaning in a listener or viewer." But why is resonance so necessary to eLearning course design? Another definition for this concept has to do with sound and “the reinforcement or prolongation of sound by reflection from a surface or by the synchronous vibration of a nearby object.” In simple words; this means one vibration causes another vibration or a ripple effect. For your audience, if you pluck just the right heartstring for them, their learning process gets easier because one piece of information will set off reminders of other knowledge, making it simpler to connect them all together, so they don’t feel like so many individual things to remember. And when things are easier they are more likely to continue with your course and retain information. Your lesson will resonate when your audience feels it, understands it and becomes mentally/emotionally invested in it. As an eLearning designer, you need to be in sync with your students, to harmonize with them, their goals and their experiences. This is the only way to fight your way through the content crush, or oversaturation of content and information that your audience is subjected to each day. To do this your eLearning course content should have these attributes:
Motivation. The word is bandied about too much these days. An entire body of literature has sprung up around it. There are coaches who teach people how to cultivate motivation. There are websites, courses, seminars, and workshops to teach the how-to's, the wherefores, and the what-ifs of motivation. So first, let's address what is motivation? And why should you care about it as an eLearning professional?
About 80 percent of all Internet users have a smartphone. About 1.2 billion people access the Internet from their mobile devices. Within the next two years, the smartphone will most likely be the only computer you own. In fact, for many people in developing countries, the smartphone is their first computer and the only Internet-enabled device they own. If you are a trainer, an HR manager, or an eLearning developer, these statistics spell out loud and clear that it is now time to design and develop courses for mobile users. With high-end smartphones that stream at 4K speeds, increased battery life, and bigger screen sizes, you can expect mobile devices to eclipse desktop or laptop computer as the preferred medium to consume virtual content. Learners have already started sending out signals about their preferences. According to a 2013 report published as part of the Towards Maturity Learning Landscape Initiative, 43 percent of the 2,000 learners who attended the survey, report that they consider being able to access learning on their mobile devices “very useful.” You should create eLearning courses keeping in mind that your learners will take them on all kinds of devices, from the desktop computer with its chunky monitor to the mobile device with its palm-sized screen. Get ready to deliver. In this post, we will tell you how reading on the mobile screen feels different than reading from a larger laptop computer screen. We will also provide tons of tips to help you create a distraction-free mobile viewing experience that aids learning.
Powerful writing is required for powerful eLearning. This eBook will help eLearning developers master the art of writing and tap into the power of words to create memorable courses.
Product designer William Newton wrote a compelling article some time ago on the tiers of good design and the pyramid they form. But this idea can be applied to more than physical product design; it can be used to create better eLearning courses, as well. Find the original article here: The Design Process: A Pyramid Using this same structure, we explore just how the pyramid can help you improve your eLearning design workflow.
How do you read an article in the newspaper? You start with the headline that screamed at you from the newsstand. Then you read the sub-headline, which is printed in a smaller font size. Next, you proceed to read the body copy. Why do you read in this order? You read the headline first because its large, bold font grabs your eyeballs as soon as you glance at the newspaper. Next, the sub-headline catches your attention. You are compelled to read in this order because of the way the text is presented. This is visual hierarchy, where information is ordered based on its importance and visually presented using contrasting forms to influence the viewing order.
Design resources never stop reminding us how important it is to be consistent when creating any graphic piece. We don’t argue. But as an eLearning designer, you know how challenging it is to walk the talk when it comes to maintaining a consistent look-and-feel throughout the course. After all, we are creative folks and artists at heart. Our brains get weary and scream for some zing by the time we get through a couple of slides.
A good-looking eLearning course is not a guarantee of its instructional effectiveness. Think of all those magazines with glossy covers that you flip over expectantly only to find that the pages are filled with trash. Unfortunately, many course developers have no clue of how visual design can increase (or decrease) learnability of the material.